Argentine President Javier Milei toured a hard-hit kibbutz near the border with Gaza on Thursday and described the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre as “21st-century Nazism.”
The unequivocal remarks by the Argentine leader during a visit to Kibbutz Nir Oz with President Isaac Herzog were the latest signal of a major shift in Argentina’s foreign policy towards the United States and Israel after decades of backing Arab countries.
“It was the indifference of the free world that made the Nazi Holocaust possible,” Milei said. “And as President Herzog said, the free world can’t remain indifferent in this case, as we see clear examples of terrorism and antisemitism and what I would describe as 21st-century Nazism.”
The agricultural community, which includes many immigrants from Argentina and their families, saw a quarter of its residents killed or kidnapped by Hamas during the Oct. 7 massacre.
“We shall rebuild this place,” said Herzog. “We shall bring back the community. And we shall protect Israelis and we hopefully will create a different future for us and for our neighbors.”
The two leaders visited several houses on the kibbutz, including that of Ofelia Roitman, an Argentine immigrant who was released from Hamas captivity in November and who accompanied the group. It was the first time she had been back in her home since Oct. 7.
Milei arrived in Israel on Tuesday reiterating his pledge to move his nation’s embassy to Jerusalem as well as to blacklist Hamas, and open a new chapter in bilateral relations. During his visit, he held meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and said a prayer at the Western Wall.
An unabashedly public philo-semite who studies with a rabbi, Milei has repeatedly pledged to move the Argentine embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, although economic woes at home—where inflation topped 140% last year—are clearly front and center on his government’s to-do list. While reiterating his commitment to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem during his visit to Israel, the Argentine leader did not cite a date for the embassy move.
His staunch support for Israel both ditches decades of unequivocal backing for Arab countries in the predominantly Catholic Latin American nation under both left- and right-wing governments and contrasts with neighboring Brazil, whose leftist leader, President Lula da Silva, has been highly critical of Israel’s war in Gaza.
Milei, who flew to Israel on an El Al flight from Rome, will return to Rome to meet the Italian premier. He will visit the Vatican for meetings with Pope Francis and to attend the canonization mass for Argentina’s first female saint.